74 journalists killed during the last three years in Latin America, says IFEX impunity report

By Tatiana Sell

The International Freedom of Expression Exchange Latin American and Caribbean Alliance (IFEX-ALC) reported that at least 74 journalists were killed and hundreds of others attacked in 11 countries across the region during the last three years, according to Infobae América.

The information was released on Friday, Nov. 23 at the launch of the first edition of the "Annual Report on Impunity 2012: Faces and Traces of Freedom of Expression," published by IFEX-ALC and its partners. The event coincided with the celebration of the International Day to End Impunity, created by IFEX last year.

The report addresses the courts' inability to punish crimes against freedom of expression in Latin America and highlights the lack of specialized mechanism to guarantee journalists' security.

Rising numbers of physical attacks on journalists and indrect censorship from governments--through defamation cases, interrupting radio signals and the creation of state media outlets designed to minimize the impact of independent media--are two strong trends seen in Latin American countries.

Beyond these, the study also reports on growing citizen participation in protests against censorship and attacks on the press.

IFEX-ALC hopes that the report will be a tool in the fight against impunity and generate changes that favor freedom of expression in Latin America and the Caribbean.

"Latin American journalists are not only confronted with violence from armed conflicts, internal distrubances, common crime and drug trafficking. They also face new forms of ever more subtle censorship accompanied by low-level attacks that become the main obstacles for journalism," said IFEX-ALC in its report.

Honduras and Mexico: the most dangerous countries to practice journalism

Of the 74 killed journalists in the region, out of which only eight have been solved, 25 occured in Honduras and 24 in Mexico, making these two countries the most dangerous countries to practice in Latin America. In Brazil, there were nine killed; in El Salvador, seven; three in Peru; two in Guatemala; and one in Argentina.

The conditions facing journalists are different in each country, according to the study. In Mexico and Central America, press workers are constantly beset by conflicts with organized crime. Journalists in Colombia and Brazil are unlikely to have any judicial recourse because of the backlog of cases. In Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia, the greatest threats facing the media come from the government in the form of censorship.

Click here to read the report (in Spanish) and get access to information about impunity and freedom of expression in each of the 11 countries surveyed.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.